Ford recalls 1.2M Explorers for suspension issue

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Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday said it is recalling 1.2 million Explorers in North America to fix a problem with the rear suspension that dates to the vehicle’s redesign from a traditional SUV into a unibody crossover in 2010.

The automaker also issued a recall for 123,000 previous-generation F-150s because transmission calibration software used during a February recall failed to resolve the problem.

Ford, in a regulatory filing, said it expects the Explorer recall to cost about $180 million. It did not give estimated costs for the F-150 recall or two other recalls covering a total of 16,300 vehicles announced Wednesday. One of the smaller recalls is to fix substandard welding in Econoline vans that are often used for school buses and ambulances.

The 2011-17 Explorers being recalled were built at the Chicago Assembly Plant from May 2010 through January 2017. Ford said the vehicles could experience a fracture in the rear suspension toe link that could reduce steering control and increase the risk of a crash.

Ford said one customer reported hitting a curb due to a broken toe link, but it’s not aware of any injuries related to the defect.

In addition to the 1.2 million Explorers in the U.S., the recall covers about 28,000 in Canada and Mexico. Ford built about 1.6 million Explorers during the covered time frame, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

A separate recall issued Wednesday covers a similar problem with rear suspension toe links on 12,000 vehicles in Canada. Vehicles affected by that recall are the 2009-15 Lincoln MKS, 2009-17 Ford Flex and 2010-17 Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKT. Ford said it’s aware of one report of a crash with minor injuries.

The repair for both suspension toe link recalls involves replacing the left and right toe links with a forged toe link and aligning the rear suspension.

The F-150 recall is for certain 2013 models with 5.0-liter and 6.2-liter gasoline engines that had the powertrain control module software reprogrammed in a previous recall fix. Ford said vehicles without the complete recall fix calibration remain at risk for unintended transmission downshift due to intermittent output speed sensor failure. The transmission could downshift to first gear without warning, potentially causing the driver to lose control and crash, Ford said.

Any F-150s that didn’t have the previous recall fix are not affected and will receive updated software under the February recall program, Ford said.

Ford said it’s not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. The recall covers 107,850 F-150s in the U.S. and 15,200 in Canada.

The Econoline recall covers 4,300 vans with 5.4-liter engines from the 2009 through 2016 model years. Ford said a capacitive discharge weld within a coast clutch component in the transmission could fail and possibly immobilize the vehicle. Dealers are being instructed to replace the coast clutch cylinder and the single-engaging coast one-way clutch with a dual-engaging one-way clutch.

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